COVID- 19 Constrains 2020 Jesuit Independence Day Festival


By Yinka Olatunbosun

The administrator, St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, (SFCSS) Idimu, Lagos, organizers of the Jesuit Annual Festival, Rev. Fr. Maduabuchi Leo Muoneme, S.J has said that although this year’s festival coincides with Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary, COVID-19 pandemic will constrain the celebrations.

“Perhaps “Life First” might be a title for our next Jesuit Annual Festival which for now is shelved for a more exquisite post-COVID-19 era. Through the lens of history, culture, discernment, life, reflection, and introspection, the Lord will show us a better way of celebrating the Jesuit Annual Festival,’’ he said.

The festival was created in 2018 to celebrate culture, honor the nation, and strengthen the hope of the people and faith of future leaders.

“During the Jesuit Annual Festival, students, staff, parents, and friends of the school gather to celebrate Arts, Dance, Music, Drama, and Entertainment so that in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

He disclosed that part of the blueprint of Jesuit education is a holistic formation, designed to develop students in all realms: intellectual, character, spiritual, and formations in humanities; theatre arts, music, visual arts, and dance.

He recalled that during the first festival in 2018, the students staged a provocative drama titled “A Parliament of Vultures” by Professor Emeka Nwabueze, a Professor of Dramatic Arts at the University of Nigeria Nsukka while in the second edition last year, the students, in the context of Ruga controversy, staged Ola Rotimi’s historical tragedy “Ovonramwen Nogbaisi.”

“Our shadows hover around us like they did for the Oba of Benin City and like they did for the British Empire. Land is sacred to Africans, and no one wants to be stripped of his or her land,” he stated.

In a bid to adapt to the changing circumstances and constantly evolving Jesuit education in Nigeria, Muoneme said the school would start running a summer online programme planned and developed as the St. Francis Jesuit Summer Online School called Head Start.

“It is going to be a thoroughgoing and systematic preparation for WAEC and NECO examinations and students in classes JS1 first term, JS2 -3 and SS 1-3. It is an improvement of last year’s summer online school. There will also be synchronous online assessments,” he added.

He also spoke on the scheme of work during the summer schools. Which would be based on the first term of each class JS1-JS3, and SS1 -SS3. “WAEC scheme for students on campus will be based on the core and complex questions that are repeating decimals each year as well as in-depth tutorials of general subject matter,” he revealed.

On the students’ behavioral expectations in a precious online class during the lockdown, he advised the students to maintain some decorum.

“Students are expected to freshen up and dress neatly and properly as if it were a normal school day. It is recommended that each student should dress in his or her school uniform for classes. This enhances consciousness of being in an academic milieu. Additionally, visitors in the house should be mindful not to distract students’ studies. Once class is over, students are required to change to their casual wear. Be seated behind a desk in a quiet environment conducive for active learning. In the space where you are, no television or radio should be on in order to avoid interferences and distractions,” he counseled.

He urged students to use some part of the few minutes break in between classes to take their eyes off the computer screen. “Do not sit all through school hours; use your break optimally. Walk outside to catch fresh air for sixty seconds of “brain break” and then return to your sit. Sixty seconds of fresh air will make a big difference before you commence the next class,” he said.

On the impact of COVID-19 to Jesuit education system, he said, “COVID-19 has reformed our style of pedagogy and relocated it to a virtual environment, albeit it has drastically reduced returns for our school.

In the same vein, in the 2020 Children’s Day Essay Competition organized by SystemSpecs, Edem Akaniyene Shawn, from JSS2 of the school, emerged as one of the Top 10 Honor List – Junior Category. Both the senior and junior category had about 2000 students from 500 schools across Nigeria. “We need young people who dream of Nigeria where things work and people can realize their full potential based on the optimal utilization of technology,” Muoneme added.